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Blowing Up Lung Cancer

'Nanoparticle cluster bomb' delivers cancer drugs right to target

FRIDAY, Feb. 20, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- University of Alberta researchers have created "nanoparticle cluster bombs" that carry lung cancer drugs directly to their target.

The treatment system has proven effective in treating cancerous cells in a laboratory petri dish and the researchers will conduct tests in live laboratory specimens this year. Clinical trials would follow that.

"Based on what we've been able to do so far, we have practical hopes that a new lung delivery platform for lung cancer can be established," researcher Dr. Raimar Loebenberg, a professor of pharmacy, says in a prepared statement.

The lung cancer drug, in powder form, is loaded into an inhaler that's similar to the device used by people with asthma. Each grain of the powder contains thousands of nanoparticles. When the powder is inhaled and arrives in the lungs, it dissolves and the nanoparticles are released.

"Once the nanoparticles are active in the lung, they have a tremendous advantage over regular drugs, because they are better able to do exactly what we want them to," Warren Finlay, a mechanical engineering professor, says in a prepared statement.

The nanoparticles can be designed to escape detection by the immune system and to carry designer drugs that target cancer cells and leave healthy cells alone.

"This drug and this delivery system have a lot of potential -- there are a lot of different things we can do as we're able to control where and when the nanoparticles release their payload," Finlay says.

The research appears in a recent issue of the International Journal of Pharmaceuticals.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about lung cancer.

SOURCE: University of Alberta, news release, February 2004
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